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Showing posts from June, 2009



Editors, Daily Planet:

We, the 40 East Bay rabbis who are members of the East Bay Council of Rabbis and serve the local Jewish community, support freedom of the press. We also support good journalism. We believe that coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be fair and honest. The Daily Planet has a right to publish its views and the views of its readers. Those who disagree have the same right. Those who have voiced their opposition to the Daily Planet's coverage are entitled to speak and be heard. It is not accurate to label everyone who has disagreed with positions expressed in the Planet as militant right-wingers. Critics of views expressed in the Daily Planet come from a number of political perspectives. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complex, and as rabbis who come f…

jewish week: "Choose Life, Not Kiddush Clubs"

NY Jewish Week: Choose Life, Not Kiddush Clubs
by Philip Lanzkowsky, Howard Trachtman And Irving Zoltan
Published on: Jun 17, 2009

It is now widely acknowledged, after years of denial, that alcoholism is increasingly prevalent in the Jewish community. In suburban Baltimore, two centers are already dedicated to the treatment of recovering Jewish drug addicts and alcoholics. It is estimated that approximately 10 percent of Jewish men have problems with excessive alcohol intake and dependence. Although this figure is less than other religious groups where the incidence may reach 30 percent, the number is still unacceptably high. 

The extent of the problem among Orthodox versus less observant Jews is open to debate but many professionals have expressed concern that the Orthodox lifestyle may provide opportunities for alcohol abuse and that religious practices may provide justification for and mask excessive alcohol ingestion.  The most disturbing fact is that young Jews seem to be more vulner…

written by a proud member of Netivot Shalom, shared by her proud rabbi!

Catholic to KugelWith an African-American Christian mom and a Jewish dad, Michella didn't know where she stood--until she found that conversion was her answer.By Michella Ore June 10, 2009 article originally appeared in the May/June 2009 issue of JVibe, the magazine for Jewish teens. Reprinted by permission.I had always thought about going to synagogue. But it wasn't until a year-and-a-half ago that I stepped foot in one for the first time. I was 12. Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, Calif., was warm and spacious--not like the cold pews I was used to sitting in during services. That night I stayed for the Shabbat service, and when it ended, my dad introduced me to the congregation. We joined them for Kiddush, and met some of the kids.Being in a new environment was a scary thing. Everyone had obviously known one another for a long time, and I was just meeting them …

AP news story for Parashat Korach: "Dead Sea peril: sinkholes swallow up the unwary"

Dead Sea peril: sinkholes swallow up the unwaryBuzz UpSendSharePrint

Dan Schifrin: "The Lovely Bones"

Dan Schifrin: "The Lovely Bones" The New York Jewish Week

The marrow of life: Jon Galinson, with his family, needs a stem cell transplant. by Daniel Schifrin
Special To The Jewish Week "Transmissions flow from your heart to Mine, trading, twining my pain with yours. Am I not — you? Are you not — I?"
— Abraham Joshua Heschel, "I and you."

There are moments when the idea of Jews being "one" transcends the clichés of both community and continuity.
When my friend Jon Galinson was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer, requiring a stem cell transplant, it was likely that his match would be another Jew of Ashkenazic descent. Our community in Northern California, where the Galinsons live, sprang into action.
At our synagogue, Berkeley's Congregation Netivot Shalom, a drive to register 100 new donors for Be The Match, the national bone marrow registry, delivered almost th…

G'vanim: Denominations

Dear Chevreh,
The newest issue of G'vanim: The Journal of The Academy for Jewish Religion, was just posted online, and I have pasted below the table of contents and a note from the editor, our colleague, Rabbi David Greenstein (full disclosure: I was honored to be one of the contributors).  The conversation, which centers around the notion (and question) of Denominationalism is provocative, and worth pursuing, I believe.
Kol Tuv, Menachem
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

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G'vanim: The Journal of The Academy for Jewish Religion
Volume 5, Number 1

This issue of the Journal is divided into two parts, each of which includes essays of new ideas and insights. In the first part, David Greenstein shares with us his thoughts on reexamining Jewish marriage with an emphasis o…

a recommended Summer book list

Shalom Chevreh - 
I thought you might be interested in this for some summer reading suggestions.  The coordinator of a Jewish Mindfulness class I've taught in Marin County was sweet enough to collect all the books and a few articles I've recommended over the past year, and organize them into a list.  Enjoy!  
Kol Tuv,Rabbi Creditor
·If This Is A Man by Primo Levi (also known as "Survival in Auschwitz")·Touchpoints by T. Berry Brazelton·New Reform Prayer Book calledMishkan T'filah, by CCAR Press,·G-d at 2000 by Marcus Borg·When Bad Things Happen To Good People by Harold Kushner·Dying Well by Dr. Ira Byock·The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning by Maurice Lamm·The Death of Death by Rabbi Neil Gillman·Does the Soul Survive by Elie Kaplan·Should We Burn Babar? by Herbert Kohl·Pete Seeger's Storytelling Book by Pete Seeger·

a wonderful article from Alban on Evaluation, Change, and Assessment (adapted for use in Jewish communities)

How Will We Know? by Sarah B. Drummond (adapted for use in Jewish communities)

Spiritual leaders often rely as much on sacred inspiration as they do on a strategic plan. In even more cases, they rely on intuition and gut feelings when putting a new program on the ground. Leaders have a hunch that there is a need to reach out to a population, to serve a community, or to try something new. So they make a foray into new territory to give something a try. If that foray goes well, they must backtrack to answer crucial questions about leadership, resources, and sustainability. Program planning models can help them do this, just as they help in the creation of new initiatives or the re-creation of lapsed initiatives. Even programs that appear to be working well "on their own" cannot continue over time without effort, intentionality, and structure.Leaders tend most often to build upon and strengthen programs that are already up and running than to create new programs. A juni…

NJ Jewish News: "Conservative movement hosts educators’ confab"

Conservative movement hosts educators' confab
Johanna Ginsberg, NJJN Staff WriterJune 18, 2009What does a glow stick have to do with learning to daven? Which of the multiple intelligences does a Passover seder address? And why should high school students put Abraham on trial for the attempted murder of Isaac?The answers are:1. Just about everything, according to Alex Weinberg, author of the Siddur Sim Shalom Remix 2.0 curriculum.2. All of them, according to Suzi Adelson Wainer, director of professional practice at the Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ.3. It's one of many creative projects that grabs high schoolers' attention and keeps them engaged in Jewish learning, according to Ron Isaacs, rabbi of Temple Sholom in Bridgewater, where he also is a coordinator of the Hebrew high school. The three educators were among the eight speakers at the Cons…

Announcing Kesharim Independent Minyan Partnership Grants

Announcing Kesharim Independent Minyan Partnership Grants

In 2008 the USCJ Kesharim Committee awarded 6 grants to Independent Minyanim who arranged partnerships with USCJ congregations or regions.  We are pleased to announce a new Request for Proposals (RFP) to be awarded in early September, 2009.   This project's goal is to build on and strengthen the growing movement of independent minyanim, enabling and empowering Jewishly committed young adults to develop the communities, programs, and initiatives they seek within the Halachic framework of Conservative Judaism. 

The initial grantees used the funds in a variety of ways, including:the purchas of food and utensils for Shabbat kiddush and meals; purchase of siddurim, chumashim, or other objects used to enhance the prayer experience; sharing the costs of a partner congregational educational program (to subsidize and encourage minyan participants to attend); printing and copying some promotional materials; and  providing a scholarshi…

MSNBC/The Washington Post: "PBS to ban new religious shows"
PBS to ban new religious shows: Compromise ends threat to stations that already broadcast church services By Paul Farh, The Washington Post updated 2:14 a.m. PT,Wed., June 17, 2009 The Public Broadcasting Service agreed yesterday to ban its member stations from airing new religious TV programs, but permitted the handful of stations that already carry "sectarian" shows to continue doing so. The vote by PBS's board was a compromise from a proposed ban on all religious programming. Such a ban would have forced a few stations around the country to give up their PBS affiliation if they continued to broadcast local church services and religious lectures. Until now, PBS stations have been required to present programming that is noncommercial, nonpartisan and nonsectarian. But the definition of "nonsectarian" programming was always loosely interpreted, and the rule had never been strictly enforced. PBS began reviewing the definition and application of those ru…